All professional cricket teams are now equipped with a mysterious figure hunched over a laptop during matches; the analyst. But what does an analyst really do that is different from the coach?
To delve more into this growing area of cricket, PitchVision Academy caught up with Venu; an experienced analyst who has worked with an IPL team, Maharashtra Premier League, and several Academies in India.
Venu has had 2 main roles as an analyst:
1. Match Data
This is the most common job of the analyst and the one you see the top guys doing during International matches. They capture data from each ball such as bowler’s line/length and batsman’s scoring areas.
At everything below international level this is done by manually entering the information into specially designed software. The feed is taken from cameras placed as close to right behind the bowler’s arm as possible. Then after the game the analyst produces reports that show the tactics, strengths and weaknesses of players.
This can be done over a number of games to try and spot trends. For example, England noticed Tendulkar has a tendency to score runs on the leg side early in his Test innings, so when they came up against him they bowled outside his off stump; a simple solution to a trend that, in the past, would have been missed by all but the canniest skipper.
2. Practice Data
In an Academy, there is a growing trend to using an analyst to capture data in practice.
Here the analyst becomes more of the link between the coach and the student. He or she can provide technical feedback from the video and tie it in to the data (such as if the ball was stuck well or if the bowler hit his length).
The type of analysis varies greatly. Younger players still learning basic techniques need far less analysis and far more coaching. Older players with a more developed technique have more of a balance, but in both cases it’s the coach that makes the final decision based on skill experience and the data presented by the analyst.
PitchVision data capture also allows coaches to set scenarios and the analyst to track the way players deal with those situations either batting or bowling.
The benefit of an analyst
By now you are seeing how an analyst can provide insights that complement the coach and make coaching better. While an analyst may be a stretch for many outside the professional game, it’s no longer an impossible dream for everyone.
As Venu says, it’s a competitive environment, so even Academies that specialise in coaching young players can improve their reputations by making better players.
And that starts with data and an analyst.
Factual data has never been more available to coaches at every level, but the sheer amount is overwhelming. Without someone there to filter out the noise and report conclusions that are most interesting and important.
The analyst - and the data they analyse - will never be able to replace the coach. However, with affordable technology like PitchVision and low cost video cameras it is becoming increasingly easy to add analysis to the coaching team at a specialist Academy.
Is it time your Academy looked seriously at data analysis?